I sit undressed, tied up in a chair. My spirit is broken, my body defiled. I look up at him, pleading: “Please, Mr. Rudess. No more.” Jordan Rudess, famed keyboard player for Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment, looks down on me and simply laughs. With his one hand, he’s playing a keyboard. With the other, he’s playing himself. I want to beg for mercy, but another glob of mammal sauce strikes my face. “Argh!” I cry. “Right in the eye!” Multiple bodily fluids seep from my eye. Tears are among them. “What do you want from me?!” I scream. Jordan Rudess laughs. “Tell me I’m the greatest keyboard player in the world, adores by fans across the globe!” I lash back: “You may be a great keyboard player, but can you write an album?” A retort I immediately regret, as I am pelted with a veritable cannonade of glistening pearlescent agglomorations. “When will this ever end?!” I scream to the skies. Jordan Rudess laughs again. “Not for another hour!”
Nauseated? Good. Now you know exactly how it feels to listen to esteemed keyboard player Jordan Rudess’ solo album Wired for Madness. Or to look at its cover art, because holy shit what an abomination. While the outer horror needs no explanation, the inner horror does. After all, Rudess is indeed a very good keyboard player, regardless of what else you may think of him, and he takes over an hour demonstrating that fact on this album. A huge variety of solos in varied styles, tones, complexities and speeds passes by, and you can’t help but to admire the man’s skill. So what is the problem?
The problem is that there is hardly anything else on the album but an endless parade of keyboard-aided masturbation. Particularly the first two songs, which make up over half an hour(!) of running time, consist of Rudess spamming solo after solo, with barely even the courtesy of a nice transition. Rudess is a good keyboard player, and Rudess wants you to know he’s a good keyboard player. He will rub your face in it (‘it’ being a table covered in synthesizer spunk) over and over and over again. It’s a stomach-churning display of self-loving and goes on far, far beyond the point of being called ‘bloated.’ Now and then the jizzard (that’s a jizz blizzard) ceases for a moment to let some vocals through, both male and female (though I could not find credits, as the promo did not include a promo sheet.) There are also a couple of guitar solos, but all the vocals and guitars together make up perhaps 5 of the 33 minutes of unending pearl-blasting that is the album’s titular opening salvo.
The rest of the album is a bit better, though not a whole lot. Two tracks are just more monkey-choking aftershocks, “Just Can’t Win” is a bizarre burlesque mixture of Sinatra and George Thorogood with a seriously rapey vibe, and both “Off the Ground” and “Just for Today” are cliche ballads of little merit. The latter does at least have some direction and development towards the end, and the vocals are quite pleasant. The production is solid across the album, with a lovely rich master and balanced mix. The final track is musically the best, reminding me of Southern Empire at times, with creative drumming, excellent bass and a solid progressive structure. Here, finally, all the instrumentation seems fairly equal, rather than servicing Rudess’ manhood. Just don’t listen to the lyrics, because the self-infatuated backslapping ‘I am a star and you can be too!’ pablum can bring the nausea surging back from whence it came.
I recently saw a performance of a Pink Floyd cover band (The Australian Pink Floyd Show, for those interested.) Afterwards, my fiance questioned whether it wasn’t a waste of talent to play in a cover band. If you’re such a great musician (which they were,) why not write your own music? I argued that for some, the skill lies in execution, not composition. Jordan Rudess’ solo album is a perfect demonstration of that argument. The man’s skills at a keyboard are the stuff of legend, but he is utterly and completely unable to stop himself from furiously wanking over everything you own, occasionally pausing for breath and to congratulate himself on what a fabulous job he’s doing. If getting caked in Rudess’ man-batter for over an hour sounds like a good time to you, be my guest, but remember I warned you when you come to your own sticky end. What a wanker.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Music Theories Recordings
Websites: jordanrudess.bandcamp.com | jordanrudess.com | facebook.com/jordanrudessofficial
Releases Worldwide: April 19th, 2019